If you have cancer during pregnancy

Your feelings

Finding out you have cancer is difficult and upsetting at any time. When you are also pregnant, it can be more frightening and confusing. Cancer and pregnancy are major life events, and while pregnancy is often a positive time, a diagnosis of cancer is always distressing. This can make dealing with both things at once very hard.

You may be coping with difficult emotions and feel no one can understand what you are going through. But there is help and support for you. 

It is natural to have lots of different worries. Understanding more about your situation may help to reassure you. We have more information about your feelings about cancer during pregnancy that you might find helpful.

You can also get support from Mummy’s Star. They are a UK and Ireland charity offering support for women who have had a cancer diagnosis during pregnancy. They can put you in touch with other women who have been in a similar situation, if this might help you. We have more information about Mummy’s Star, or you can visit their website mummysstar.org

Research

To begin with, you might worry that being pregnant may make the cancer grow faster. But doctors have researched this in different types of cancer and there is no evidence to support this.

Research also shows that pregnant women with cancer can be treated as effectively as women who are not pregnant. In general, doctors try as far as possible to treat you in the same way as a non-pregnant woman with the same cancer. Because cancer in pregnancy is rare, there is less evidence available from large trials to guide treatment options. 

The right treatment for you depends on the type of cancer you have, its stage and how many weeks pregnant you are. You may have to avoid certain treatments or delay them until after the baby is born.

Making decisions

Making decisions about cancer treatment when you are pregnant can be especially hard. As well as worrying about your own health, you will also have the baby’s health to think about. Your doctors and specialist nurses will give you all the information you need and can help you make decisions.

Your doctors will try to balance your health with the safety of the baby. In certain situations, they may advise a woman to end the pregnancy. This is usually when the cancer is growing very quickly and the pregnancy is still early. It may be essential to immediately start a cancer treatment that is not safe during pregnancy.

We have more information on making decisions about your pregnancy and treatment.